Nightclub singer Larry Todd breaks off his romance with a beautiful showgirl when he realizes she's the girlfriend of a murderously jealous gangster. While on the run, Larry mistakenly believes he kills one of the mobsters and is helped to escape police by heiress Mary Carol, who smuggles Larry and partner Myron to Cuba. Mary has inherited a haunted castle on an isolated island and, ignoring ominous warnings and threats, decides to take possession. While there, the trio hunt for a hidden treasure and encounter a ghost, a zombie, and a mysterious killer.Written by
The film was composed in the 1.37 aspect ratio. During that year widescreen became popular, so Paramount allowed it to be released in 1.66 ratio, Panoramic Screen. Other films were also released in this incorrect ratio that year, according to Bob Furmanek at 3dfilmarchive. Considering the placement of heads in the compositions, the cropping may have been of the top area rather than the middle. See more »
At the club Mary receives a note from Larry that he can't make the date, she writes on (what looks like a show bill) three words (two on top line one on bottom) quickly scrawled but when we see a close up its written very clearly it reads: "Forgive me for running away-" See more »
I'm a Jerry Lewis fan and I think Bob Hope's «The Ghost Breakers» (1940) was technically way ahead of its time as a funny/scary Old Dark House comedy. This thirteen-years-later remake feels like it was hatched together as a quickie Martin-Lewis vehicle in the «scary» mode (they made four films that year). It reuses the same director (George Marshall), most of the dialogue, most of the situations, most of the special effects, all the stock footage and even one song from the original. The sets have also been recreated and the jokes «updated». If the remake works at all, it is due to the extreme quality and originality of the first film. Comedy writer Norman Lear (of TV fame) did his best in adapting the Bob Hope/Willie Best routine to the particular talents of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Where the story starts to creak though is in the scary scenes. They have lost their suspense and mystery and that undefinable mix of editing, timing, lighting, photography, acting, pacing and music called «atmosphere», which «The Ghost Breakers» had in spades.
The casting is also lacking: Lizabeth Scott is no Paulette Goddard. She may look good in a bathing suit but her comedy is stilted, her romantic moods are too entranced and her dramatics don't convince. William Ching is no Richard Carlson, Paul Marion is no Anthony Quinn and George Dolenz is no Paul Lukas either. The zombie character is also a special disappointment all its own. Out of a misguided sense of political correctness, the original Black zombie (Noble Johnson) has been replaced by a nondescript White (!) cowboy villain (!!) (Jack Lambert) who actually looks like an ordinary Joe (!!!) without makeup (!!!!) from a distance. His entrance actually causes crickets to start chirping.
All in all, I appreciate this film as a kind of homage to the original, for its numerous Jerry Lewis set pieces, in which he exhibits a supreme self-confidence, and for the Dean Martin songs - despite the near-obscenity of the «Enchilada Man» number (you can imagine but don't ask!)... The less said about the Carmen Miranda numbers the better (this was her last film).
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